By Sami Zaptia.
London, 2 December 2020:
Acting UNSMIL head Stephanie Williams warned in her opening remarks that time was not on the side of the 75 members gathered today for the Third Virtual Meeting of the Second Round of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF).
‘‘I want to remind as I said before, time is not on your side. I would like to alert you to the fact that there is a direct cost for inaction and obstruction.
Here are some indicators, I want to alert you to:
- There now 10 military bases in your country- all over your country – and not in a particular area – that are today either fully or partially occupied by foreign forces.
- There are now 20,000 foreign forces and/or mercenaries in your country. That is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty. You may believe that these foreigners are here as your guests, but they are now occupying your house. This is a blatant violation of the arms embargo.
- They are pouring weapons into your country, a country which does not need more weapons.
- They are not in Libya for your interests, they are in Libya for their interests
- “Dirou balkom” [take care]. You have now a serious crisis with regard to the foreign presence in your country.
I have previously warned you about the declining socioeconomic conditions in the country and the fact that we expect in one month time, exactly in January 2021, there will be 1.3 million Libyans, your compatriots, your citizens in need of humanitarian assistance.
There is a sharp decline in the purchasing power of the Libyan Dinar. The liquidity crisis has fully returned. There is a shortage of cash in circulation.
There is a terrible electricity crisis now. I don’t need to remind you of how terrible the electricity shortages were last summer. Because of the terrible corruption and the mis-governance, all over the country. I am not pointing fingers. This is a crisis in the West and in the East. You have a crisis of corruption. You have a mis-governance crisis and now you have only 13 of 27 powerplants that are functioning.
One billion US dollars is needed immediately to be invested in the electrical infrastructure in order to avert a complete collapse of the electrical grid in your country.
This is very difficult now because of the divisions in the institutions, and because of the epidemic of corruption and this kleptocratic class that is determined to remain in power.
This is accompanied by a deepening COVID-19 crisis. You now have almost 94,000 COVID-19 cases in Libya. We think those estimates are low and that the actual number is higher, but there is a terrible shortage of testing in the country.
You have foreign actors who are behaving with complete impunity. You have domestic actors who are engaging in widespread corruption, self-dealing and mismanagement of the country. You have an increasing lack of accountability and human rights problems on a daily basis. We are getting reports of kidnapping, arbitrary detentions, killings by armed groups all over the country.
While there is a lot of political tourism going to different countries and capitals, the average Libyans are suffering, and the indications of improvement for their situation are not there.
We believe – and I think many of you believe – that the best way to move forward is through this political dialogue. This is a broad and inclusive forum for decision-making and people are counting on you. We went a long way in Tunis. We set the date of elections. We need to hold all those institutions that need to produce the elections accountable, but you also have a governance crisis. The best way to address your governance crisis is to unify your institutions, to unify your Central Bank which needs to have a board meeting to address the exchange rate crisis immediately.
I know that there are many who think that this whole dialogue is just about sharing power, but it is really about sharing responsibility for future generations. This is my ask of you as we have the discussions today in going forward, because, and I will say it again, time is not on your side”.